Cape Cod has so much to offer that you might question what you should do on a day trip. We’ve put together a few options for a Cape Cod day trip, and each is based on the type of experience that you may want. While you could do just one, we challenge you to do them all! You could even stay a few days to maximize your Cape Cod day trip fun.
Plan the Ultimate Beach Day on Cape Cod
Since Cape Cod is a peninsula, it has an abundance of beautiful beaches. You could try to visit as many as you can in one Cape Cod day trip, but we recommend spending more than just a little while at our favorites.
Note: Guests of Candleberry Inn are able to borrow complimentary beach towels, chairs, and umbrellas for use at area beaches.
Cape Cod National Seashore
With 40 miles of pristine sandy coastline, the Cape Cod National Seashore is full of lighthouses and scenic beaches. You can see nesting shorebirds and seals at some of them.
Coast Guard Beach in Eastham (named one of the top ten US beaches) is a prime spot for swimming during the summer, and it’s the starting point for the Great Beach. You can park in the Little Creek parking lot west of the beach and take a shuttle over. Also in Eastham, Nauset Light Beach is a broad area contained by a high glacial bluff. From the parking lot, you walk down a short path to reach the beach.
Here are more great beaches to visit across this protected land:
North Beach Island
Just south of the Cape Cod National Seashore, North Beach Island is a remote, pristine beach in Chatham that you can only access by boat or water taxi, which costs about $20. The island formed after a severe storm in April 2007. It doesn’t have much more than green beach grass and white sand, so seals favor it over the busier beaches along the coastline.
Located in Dennis, Mayflower Beach has warm bayside water that changes throughout the day — from tidal pools to small waves. At low tide, the water drains more than ¼ mile out, giving you an expansive view of the sandy flats. Traversing the sand dunes from the parking lot to the beach is easy on the boardwalk.
Old Silver Beach
Featuring mostly calm water in Falmouth, Old Silver Beach on Buzzards Bay has soft, powdery sand and water so clear that you can see the glimmer of silvery fish within. It’s such a busy beach that it’s divided into two sections with separate parking lots — one for residents with beach stickers and the other for the general public. A small rock jetty lies between each side. The sandbars are perfect for kids, but be mindful that strong currents can roll in at high tide.
This bayside beach off Breakwater Road is just a 10 to 15-minute walk from Candleberry Inn in Brewster! Upon arrival at Breakwater Beach, you’ll enjoy the mild water temperature, soft sand, and calm water. We recommend trying to experience this beach one day during low tide so you can walk amongst the extensive tidal flats and pools that are as interesting as they are beautiful. Be sure to pack a lunch and refreshing beverages, but keep an eye out for the ice cream truck in the summer if you feel like indulging in a frozen treat!
Paine’s Creek Beach
Paine’s Creek and the adjoining beach in Brewster are popular places to go for outdoor adventure. The beachfront is perfect for building sandcastles, peering into tide pools, and swimming. Kayakers often start their journey at the mouth of the creek and paddle toward the bay.
A Cape Cod Day Trip for Hiking & Biking
Aside from going to the beach, two of the most popular activities on Cape Cod are hiking and biking. The towns across the Cape have done a wonderful job creating scenic routes for everyone to enjoy.
Shining Sea Bikeway
Stretching from North Falmouth to Woods Hole’s Steamship Authority Ferry terminal, the Shining Sea Bikeway is a paved, 10.7-mile path specifically designed for cycling. A round trip takes about 2 hours if you don’t stop to rest and gaze at the gorgeous scenery along the Buzzards Bay shoreline. And there’s a lot of scenery — cranberry bogs, marshlands, sandy beaches. Built on a former railroad right-of-way, the trail is ideal for beginner and casual cyclists.
For a change of pace, check out the Sandwich Boardwalk in Sandwich. This 1,350-foot plank walk leads to the Town Beach, crossing Mill Creek and the marsh along the way. It was originally built in 1875 and has been rebuilt several times with support from local businesses and residents. In fact, Hurricane Bob practically destroyed the wooden walkway in 1991, while a blizzard partially destroyed it in 2013. National Geographic lists it as one of the country’s Top 10 boardwalks.
Cape Cod Rail Trail
Stretching for an amazing 27.6 miles and growing, the Cape Cod Rail Trail connects Yarmouth to Wellfleet. The paved route follows a section of the former New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. If you’re ambitious, you can bike the entire length of the trail in a single Cape Cod day trip. However, you might enjoy taking a few days to ride it and explore each quaint town that passes through. Take a look at our ultimate guide to the Cape Cod Rail Trail to learn more.
Nickerson State Park
For a mixture of hiking and biking, go to Nickerson State Park in Brewster. It has several hiking trails that connect to each other. The Cliff Pond Trail takes you around Cliff Pond in about 3 miles. The Eel Pond trail is about 3.2 miles, and the Flax Pond and Ruth Pond paths are about 5 miles each. Also, the 3-mile Nickerson Bike Loop is excellent for cycling and walking throughout the year.
Must-See Attractions & Must-Do Activities on Cape Cod
If you’re taking a day trip to Cape Cod and want to hit a lot of attractions, you won’t have trouble filling up your day. Wherever you choose to go, you don’t want to miss these places and activities.
Heritage Museums and Gardens
In Sandwich, the Heritage Museums and Gardens is one of the most popular places on the Cape for good reason. It’s an awesome place to take in local fauna and flora while exploring art galleries, exhibitions, and collections. The 100-acre grounds contain:
- 8 gardens
- Bee hotels for solitary bees
- Several miles of nature trails
- The Old East Windmill
- A 7-layer labyrinth
- A unique antique automobile gallery – not to be missed
- The Hidden Hollow treehouse
While you’re there, you can have a picnic on the lawn or on one of the picnic tables. Sandwiches, snacks, ice cream, and more are available at Magnolia Cafe. Before you leave, stop by the Shop at Heritage.
Sandwich Glass Museum
The Sandwich Glass Museum is only a 5-minute drive from the Heritage Museums and Gardens. It collects and preserves the town’s history with American glass production. The museum has a glass furnace with hourly glassmaking presentations where you can watch a glass blower at work and feel the heat of the furnace. You can explore permanent exhibits at any time, while special exhibits and events are held throughout the year.
John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum
The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum is an interesting stop for all ages. It’s located in Hyannis Port, which has a long history with the Kennedy Family and had a special place in JFK’s heart. Although his presidency was short, it was filled with significant events that you can learn about in this museum. The building holds special memories and stories that keep the Kennedy Family tradition alive as well.
Cape Cod is one of the best places to go whale watching. The sea mammals migrate to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (between the Cape and Cape Ann) every summer to feed on plankton and fish. Several tour companies — such as Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises from Barnstable Harbor and Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch in Provincetown — offer excursions to observe the whales. We have a Cape Cod whale watching guide to help you plan your trip.
Towering over Provincetown at 252 feet, the Pilgrim Monument is a sight to behold as you approach the seaside town. It was founded in 1892 to commemorate the first landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims in 1620, when they explored the tip of the Cape for five weeks before sailing to Plymouth. You can climb the granite tower for a picturesque view of Provincetown and Cape Cod Bay.
Cape Cod Winery & Brewery Hopping
The soil, location, and climate on Cape Cod create a unique flavor in the grapes that are grown and used to make wine here. The Cape has several breweries that make delicious beers too. For a relaxing Cape Cod day trip of wine and beer tasting, check out these Cape Cod wineries and breweries.
Cape Cod Winery
In East Falmouth, Cape Cod Winery is less than 3 miles from the ocean and offers a comfortable place to sip the flavors of the Cape. Wine flights are available until midafternoon, but you can get glasses of wine all day. The outdoor table service is particularly nice during the summer.
Cape Cod Beer
From seasonal to year-round brews, Cape Cod Beer in Hyannis has something for everyone. The brewery was established in 2004 and offers tours of its facilities. During the summer, the tastings move to its outdoor beer garden under a tent. With tastings, you get five samples and a souvenir tasting glass. On top of that, there’s live music when the weather permits, and you can get food from the pop-up kitchen and food trucks.
A family-owned brewery, Barnstable Brewing in Hyannis started as a family tradition at gatherings. After a win at the 2012 Samuel Adams Come Brew With Us contest, that tradition transformed into something for everyone on Cape Cod to enjoy. The brewery creates handcrafted beers and has revolving brews in its taproom, which is a fun place to hang out with friends.
First Crush Winery
In Harwich, First Crush Winery has been making award-winning wines for many years with a mission to impress even the most astute wine drinkers. It uses only the best equipment, technology, and fruit. A standard tasting includes five samples and a plate of cheese and crackers. The premier tasting adds a sample of reserve wine, keepsake wineglass, and chocolate cookie. Glasses of wine and wine slushy drinks are available as well.
A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That
If you don’t want to limit your Cape Cod day trip to a specific type of experience, you can do a combination of the above attractions and activities. Here’s an itinerary that we recommend for the trip, and you can use scenic Route 6A to reach them all:
- Heritage Museums and Gardens
- Cape Cod Beer
- Whale watching with Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises
- Nickerson State Park
- First Crush Winery
- Nauset Lighthouse and Beach in the Cape Cod National Seashore
Stay the Night in a Luxury Bed & Breakfast
Whether you want to enjoy a single Cape Cod day trip or explore more of the peninsula over the course of several days, staying on the Cape is always a great idea. Candleberry Inn is located along Route 6A in historic Brewster making it the perfect place to call your home base for your Cape Cod day trips.
Start your day with a gourmet breakfast and relax in luxury at the end of your explorations. You could even turn your day trip into a weekend getaway with one of our packages and specials. Check our rates for your travel dates here.